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It was very difficult to recover these fragments as they were extremely brittle and many were reduced to powder (ashes) when trying to collect them.
At the end of the cremations, it was the fish vertebrae that were the most recognisable and easiest to recover from the wood ashes (See Figure 5).
In order to study and understand cremated bone, it is crucial to conduct experiments in real environmental conditions. Much information can nevertheless be obtained from these experiments, not only for radiocarbon dating, but also to better understand ancient cremation practices, as well as the processes impacting bone structure when submitted to high temperatures (600ºC and above).
Results indicate that, as expected, bone structure changes drastically after The burning of a body after death. The oldest extant, presently known cremated remains of a human are those of the Mungo Lady in Australia, which have recently been re-dated to roughly forty thousand years BP by optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating (Bowler et al. Across Europe, cremation dominates in several regions during the Period from about 2200 to 700BC. Burning of wood, charcoal or other fuel to produce flames, heat and light eg for warmth or cooking.
The variability in temperatures, viewed together with variation in bone thickness, explains why some parts of the bone were only charred while others were fully calcined.
It remains unclear, however, whether this carbon is endogenous to the bone or whether it has been absorbed from elsewhere (for example from the carbon dioxide emitted by the flesh and skin, or by the fuel used during cremation). ZAZZO, A., SALIEGE, J.-F., LEBON, M., LEPETZ, S., & MOREAU, C. Radiocarbon Dating of Calcined Bones: Insights from Combustion Experiments Under Natural Conditions.It appeared that the hottest point of the fire shifted over time.This confirms the importance of carrying out experimental cremations in outdoor conditions since the temperature will remain relatively constant with time and space in a laboratory furnace, far from representative of real life conditions.Regardless, many more laboratory experiments and outdoor cremations are needed before all the questions related to cremation can be answered.
The present research highlights the importance of carrying out outdoor cremations: because of the extreme variability in burning conditions (wind, types and amounts of wood used, size of the body, position of the body on the fire, et cetera), it will be possible to obtain a reliable and comprehensive dataset only by burning a wide range of bone fragments on outdoor pyres of various types and sizes, and by doing so on different days and in different regions. 26,000 BC) yielded a result of 4,000 years old when radiocarbon dated (Ox A-24941: 2115 ± 86 BC). Please check individual images for licensing details.